Date: 2022-10-27

Degree: Doctoral Thesis

Programme: Education

Authors: Choi Ae Young

Supervisors: Prof. Stewart Martin, University of Hull, UK


Listening to children’s voices is still not considered an essential part of education in some schools, including many in Asian countries. The authority of schools and teachers is still highly valued under the continued influence of Confucian Heritage Culture in many Asian schools, including a significant number in Macao. Teachers in international schools in Asian countries often experience some difficulties when communicating with young children because of the children’s low English proficiency and also because of the traditional views supported by many parents who grew up with the Confucian Heritage Culture which encourages children to be quiet in the classroom so as to be good listeners. This Action research took fifteen months between two school years, 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, with two groups of four and five-year-old students in a kindergarten classroom. Documentation posters were created for young children to use the next morning to reflect on their learning. A pedagogy of listening was implemented in order to discover young children’s ideas and interests, to record their ideas and work with daily documentation posters, and to help children to reflect on documentation posters in order to improve their learning and develop their higher-order thinking skills. Photos and videos, observation notes with the children’s comments, documentation posters, and reflective discussions were used as interventions to collect the children’s ideas and record their learning activities. The children learned to use documentation posters to remember, think, share, and improve their learning. The children’s comments from Learning Centres, recess, and reflective discussions were used to examine their understanding of learning and higher-order thinking skills. During one Pilot Cycle and three structured data collection cycles, the children demonstrated improvement in learning for each learning project and development of their thinking skills both with and without the teacher’s support. The children demonstrated higher-order thinking skills more often from Learning Centres and recess when they had to solve problems. They also demonstrated higher-order thinking skills more often during the whole group reflective discussions than in small group reflections, when bigger number of children joined or when they had enough time to think. The thinking skills when children were reflecting were observed to concentrate on remembering and understanding as they focused on remembering and sharing the previous day’s work. The children’s other higher-order thinking skills did not show an increase in frequency during reflective discussions. However, the children demonstrated active engagement and a range of higher-order thinking skills when the teacher asked open-ended questions and provided support and comments to help them to connect their learning to their past experiences. Findings indicated that the children’s learning from each Learning Centre showed change and improvement during their play over time according to their interests, indicated by their material use and comments. The research was limited by its small number of participants within their age group due to convenience sampling and the children’s relatively limited ability to clearly demonstrate higher-order thinking skills. This study has contributed to showing how teachers can help children to use documentation posters for their learning, to illustrate how ways of using documentation posters can help to develop young children’s learning and thinking skills by visualizing their ideas, and the importance of the teacher’s role in supporting children’s learning with active listening and support in the classroom.